I get so many emails and forum messages asking “what is the best tackle to catch carp on” that I’ve decided to “Try” to give everyone new to carp fishing the answer…..
It’s a big question that requires a big (Long) answer – so here goes!
Well I’d best start at the beginning and the first thing that comes to my mind is cost, by this I mean carp tackle can cost you an arm and a leg but it doesn’t have to be that way, you can catch carp using the cheapest stuff on the market just as well as someone who has Fox, Shimano, JRC or Nash stamped all over their tackle, also well worth considering is second-hand gear you can buy top gear at excellent prices this but if you do buy your stuff this way either take advice first on the product your buying or take someone with who knows his carp gear!
Fish Care Products: “Before you begin fishing you must deal with this issue” in order for fishing to continue (there are many pressure groups trying to ban the sport) everyone must take steps to ensure that the fish you catch are returned in the best condition possible to do this all you need is a small amount of inexpensive equipment and a large amount of care and thought when handling the fish you catch. Firstly you will need an unhooking mat to get the thickest/most padded and the best you can afford, no doubt you will want to weigh the fish you catch so look for the best/softest weigh sling you can afford, for these items it is probably best to visit a shop rather than order them online as you really need to see and feel these particular items for yourself. Another product you will need Kryston Klin-ik or Fish Doctor from Big Fish Adventure or a similar make of fish antiseptic, when you catch a carp put a few drops of this on the hook hole especially if there is mouth damage or bleeding this will help keep infection away and also help any other damage such as missing scales heal quicker, it is now compulsory that you use one of these products on some fisheries. “LOOK AFTER OUR FISH” and enjoy your fishing!
If you are strapped for cash there is no reason why you can’t start carp fishing with just one rod even though the norm today is to use at least two sometimes three or four rods, I would suggest that your first rod should be a 2 ¼ – 2 ½ test curve rod as this is roughly the ideal rod for medium-range fishing and if you take care you use a rod-like this both close in and at a good distance, for long-range carping, you will need a rod with a test curve of 2 ¾ upwards but I don’t recommend long range carp fishing for the beginner. Also later on you may also need a Spod Rod, a fast action high test curve rod for baiting up with the use of a spod rocket, also you might want a Stalking Rod a slower action rod with a lower test curve which you can use for close range fishing and for seeking out carp in the margins and on the surface. If you can stretch to the cost get two rods to begin with and also I would say if you have stacks of money to burn then buy the best (I’ll get into some different makes of gear later) it won’t hurt your fishing one bit!
The main thing to look for when choosing a reel is a bait runner facility, it might also go by one or two other names such as free spool or something similar to that, but what it actually is is a system where you can flick a switch usually at the back of the reel which by-passes the clutch system on your reel, this allows the line to be pulled from your reel at a tension set by the user so that should you get a carp run off with your rig and bait at a fast rate it won’t be taking your rod with it, when you pick up your reel and turn the handle the bait runner will disengage and your reels clutch will take over again “always check that you have set it properly before taking your first cast”.
Pods & Rod Rests
If you’re a beginner you may not know what a pod is yet so I’ll explain, basically it’s a glorified rod rest that can hold two-three, or even four rods depending on the Buzzer Bars you are using, these are the crossbars which your bite alarms and/or rod rests attach to on top of which go your rods. The benefits of rod pods are that they are quick and easy to set up, they are stable also most are very adjustable making them easy to use on unstable or uneven ground. Of course, you don’t have to use a rod pod and in one or two situations they will be unsuitable in this case you will need good old fashioned Rod Rest, these are good for most situations except where the bank is very hard also there a lot cheaper.
Buzzers (bite alarms)
I’ll start off by saying if your new to carp fishing you don’t need to use buzzers to catch carp, to begin with, it’s probably best if you don’t dive in headfirst and start night & session fishing right away just find a nice easy day ticket fishery where you can catch as many carp as possible, this being the case you won’t need buzzers you can just watch your indicators, you will have to concentrate and watch your line, indicators and listen out for turning spools and clutches, I often turn my buzzers off when fishing for the day there really is no need to use them for short sessions “as long as you stay by your rods”, the modern trend though seems to be sit far away from your rods and just wait for the carp to bolt….. not the best way in my book but each to his own I guess!
Nowadays there are quite a few different makes on the market and they all do the job even the cheapest, I’ve tried a few makes and models over the years and they have all been good, the old Optonics are still as good as ever you can get these second hand and in good condition they are great, Delkims are excellent but expensive, Bitech Vipers are excellent, many of the cheaper makes are good enough and very cheap, at the moment I’m using Fox Micron MX buzzers these are both cheap and very good although I do miss the sensitivity control I had on my Delkims.
Chairs & Bed Chairs
A good carp Chair or Bed Chair to sit on while you are fishing is a must, In my opinion, it is vital that you are comfortable when carp fishing, the waits can be long and the fishing can be very frustrating, if your uncomfortable this can make your session unbearable, on the other hand, if you’re comfortable while you’re waiting you’ll be more relaxed, more patient and you’ll feel more confident, this is an added bonus to being comfortable. If you can afford it go for a bed chair straight away, they are very comfortable and if and when you decide to night/session fish you can have a great kip and you’ll be on the ball to give it your best all the time.
Bivvies and Umbrellas: These come in all shapes and sizes and are a must if you intend to fish in anything other than the best weather, even in the summer you’ll need an umbrella if you don’t want to be roasted alive. For those new to carp fishing a Bivvy is basically a tent optimized for fishing, you can of course buy a dome tent for as little as £30 and use it quite happily until your ready to get yourself a bivvy
. I’m sure even those new to angling know what an umbrella is, and when you buy the main thing is to get one that is at least 50 inches in diameter and that the pole can be removed from the center and fitted at the back of the umbrella to give you more space, there many good ones to choose from I prefer the ones made from wavelock material as they are very strong and very waterproof.
Luggage: It goes without saying you need to carry your tackle to and from or around the water your fishing, there are many many makes and models of carry-alls, rod bags, rucksacks and many other kinds of bags and boxes which between them will hold all your tackle which in turn you will have to carry unless you buy a carp porter (barrow) or unless you can afford a slave of course. The luggage you use is for you to decide there is such a wide choice that you have to look at as many makes and models as you can and then make your decision from what you have seen, also listen to any recommendations your friends can offer you…When choosing your luggage try to keep weight in mind as you have to carry it…. My luggage is very basic and some of it is very old, I recently bought some new rods and then decided to buy a new flash JRC Rod Bag to keep em protected and in good nic, I used it twice and decided that my old quiver which is very light, very convenient and very tattered was the much better option for me even though it is absolutely crammed when I take all my rods on a session……. so as you see the choice of luggage or any other item of tackle is a very personal choice so have a good look round before you part with your dosh.
Hooks & Lines: Well the choice is huge there are so many good makes and models on the market that it really is a matter of personal preference. I prefer various patterns of fox and Partridge hooks for many different reasons and change them to suit the situation, you really need to try several different hooks and stick with the ones you like while at the same time keeping an eye on the new hooks entering the market.
My preferences for the line are much narrower, I use Fox soft steel and Daiwa Sensor (Garth got me using this one) for the higher breaking strains, and for the lower breaking strains (10 lb and under) I use and have always used Maxima Chameleon, this line is excellent and has never let me down and also it seems to last forever!
Hook Links: This is a big subject on its own and everyone who has been carping for a while will have their own opinion on this and I’m just gonna give you a short rundown on the stuff I use. Whether I’m using soft or stiff hook links I like to keep them the lowest possible diameter and strength I can get away with in any given situation. It seems very rare now to find anyone using any less than a 15 lb hook link nowadays, if I’m fishing open water I hardly ever use anything heavier than 8 or 10 lb in breaking strain, near snags it’s a different ball game 15 – 25lb no matter what type of link I’m using. I still use stiff mono hook links such as Maxima, I also use snakeskin and fluorocarbon hook links, I’m can’t stand many of the soft braid links they just don’t do the bizz for me, this year I may be having a go with some different (new) hook link materials…… we’ll see!
Leads: The leads use are almost exclusively Korda in all their different forms, why? because they do the job and they cover any situation I can think of, “nuff said”.
Floats: You can catch carp on the float (big ones too) so will at some point need a float or two so try to keep three or four large floats of different types so that you can use the lift method and the laying on method should the situation arise.
Other items you will need: You will also swivels Berkley & Korda being amongst the best and most reliable, floats and bait bands, stainless rings for making rigs such as the D-rig , swimmer rig and hinged rigs, ledger stops, boilie needles, boilie stops, hair braid, scissors, forceps, rig glue…. the list goes on but as time passes you will soon learn exactly what you do and don’t need!
I’m sure I’ve probably missed a few items of tackle that could be included in this guide. If I think of any then I will add them to the guide, if you think of any I should add then do let me know!